There was a check near center ice, and Zam Plante went down in a heap.
Play continued as Plante was sprawled on the ice for several seconds. He finally gathered himself and, hunched over in obvious pain, skated toward the Hermantown bench. He tossed off a glove, threw his stick, then flung his other glove has made his way across the ice.
It was as if the Hawks’ star junior forward knew his night, at the very least, was over.
Sure enough, Plante, a Minnesota Duluth commit who is the state’s top returning scorer this season, never returned after departing with 4:57 left in opening period of Hermantown’s collision-filled 2-1 victory over Wayzata at the Plymouth Ice Center.
“I didn’t like, but I’d have to see it again,” Hermantown coach Pat Andrews said about the hit on Plante.
The Hawks’ victory over the Trojans continued a harrowing season-opening, two-weekend set of games against some of the state’s best Class 2A programs. Hermantown, No. 1 in Class 1A in Legacy Hockey’s latest state power rankings, improved to 3-0-0 Friday night, with the other wins coming against No. 4-2A Benilde-St. Margaret’s and No. 6-2A Hill-Murray.
“I mean, it sucks, but we’re a deep team and we're all gonna step up,” Hermantown junior defenseman George Peterson said about Plante’s injury and departure. “He'll be okay, I think.”
Sophomore Dallas Vieau scored his first varsity goal on a first-period power play to put the Hawks up 1-0 late in the first and Peterson’s toe-drag around a defender and upper-corner shot that beat Wayzata goaltender Will Ingemann gave the Hawks a 2-0 lead with 4 minutes left in the second.
No. 7-2A Wayzata’s Luke Miller scored on a power-play to make it 2-1 with 1:03 left in the second.
Neither team had much for quality chances in a scoreless, tight-checking third period.
“Nobody wants to see a top-end player get injured like that, or any player get injured,” Wayzata coach Pat O’Leary said. “It’s happened to us, and what it can do is galvanize you or make you mad and get you off your game. They didn’t change how they played at all, and they are very good when they have a lead.”
Hermantown beat Benilde-St. Margaret’s 6-5 in an end-to-end scorefest that showcased the Hawks’ speed and puck movement. The Hawks’ 4-1 triumph over Hill-Murray, played about 14 hours after the win over the Red Knights, was more of a tactical affair that required patience to break down the Pioneers’ highly structured defense. The matchup against Wayzata? A flat out war. Football on ice, at times.
“That was just a physical battle,” Hermantown senior forward and alternate captain Gavin Blomdahl said. “Good, hard, old fashioned hockey.”
Old-fashioned hockey, indeed. Teams line up to schedule Wayzata, a state tournament qualifier last season, because of the Trojans’ consistently deploy top-caliber talent that plays hard-nosed, suffocating defense, refusing to concede a millimeter of ice. Edina coach Curt Giles said he’d love to play Wayzata more than the three or four times the teams usually meet each season.
Powerhouse big-school programs choose to play Hermantown for many of the same reasons.
“They are at a different level than the rest of the single-A teams,” O’Leary said.
Andrews said he was hoping the Hawks would finish their opening two weekends of games (Hermantown was set to play Rosemount at 3:15 p.m. on Saturday) with a .500 record or better. They already eclipsed that goal with Friday’s victory.
“I’m super proud of them,” Andrews aid. “What (losing Plante) does is galvanize your team to win a war. I’ll tell you that. Because they didn’t back off.”